U.S. Marines pose with SS flag, Nazi symbol: Panetta wants investigation

Saturday, 11 February 2012 12:18
MarineLogo120709_optBY JASON KIM

After a January PR set-back, the United States Marine Corp again was on the defense in minimizing damage. This time, it's a 2010 photo where marines posed in front of a flag marked with a logo associated with World War II Nazis.

"If you look at any book on the Nazi period, this is the dreaded symbol of the SS, and to have a Marine Corps unit adopt it and put it beside the American flag when 200,000 Americans died to free the world of that dreaded symbol is just beyond the pale”, Rabbi Marvin Hier, founder of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, said to The Sun.

The Nazi SS unit was the right arm of Adolf Hitler. During the Nuremberg war crimes trial, it was deemed a criminal organization, which implemented heinous killings of millions of Jews, Gypsies and other “undesirables” by the Nazi regime.

On Friday, Commandant James Amos, a 42 year veteran of the Marine Corp in a statement said, “I want to be clear that the Marine Corps unequivocally does not condone the use of any such symbols to represent our units or Marines”.

Amos continued, “On behalf of the Marine Corps and all Marines, I apologize to all offended by this regrettable incident.”

In a report by RT, Mikey Weinstein, founder of MRFF (The Military Religious Freedom Foundation) in Washington D.C. wanted high level consequences and demanded that, “Heads need to roll and this [incident] needs to be fully investigated.”

However, as reported by the Associated Press, the defenders of the Marines asserted that “the Marines believed the “SS” symbol was meant to represent sniper scouts and never intended to be associated with a racist organization”, said Maj. Gabrielle Chapin, a spokeswoman at Camp Pendleton (California), where the Marines were based.

The marines associated with the photo are part of the Scout Sniper, a secondary Military Occupational Specialty group within the U.S. Marine Corp, Charlie Company, 1st Reconnaissance Battalion out of Camp Pendalton, Calif. A Scout Sniper is described as “a marine highly skilled in field craft and marksmanship who delivers long range precision fire on selected targets from concealed positions in support of combat operations”.

"I don't believe that the Marines involved would have ever used any type of symbol associated the Nazi Germany military criminal organization that committed mass atrocities in WWII," Chapin said. "It's not what who we are as Marines."

In the photo taken in Afghanistan, members of the Marine Corps are seen posing with guns in front of a U.S. flag and similarly sized, flag with the controversial “SS” logo letters, prominently displayed, in the infamous Nazi SS lightning bolt style.

The Marines have been using the same “SS” lightning bold style logo for years. There have been evidence of use as far as 2004, where a photo shows a Marine posing with a sniper rifle detailed with the exact “SS” logo.

Another Camp Pendleton spokesman, Master Gunnery Sgt. Mark Oliva told the Associated Press that “he did not know where the flag came from but it was likely the property of one of the Marines in the photograph."

Oliva added, “The photograph appeared on the blog for a military weapons company called Knight’s Armament in Titusville, Fla." Knight’s Armament is an after-market firearms enhancement and conversion parts manufacturer, owned by C. Reed Knight.

Knight’s Armament, as of Friday, hadn’t provided any statements to multiple news organizations about the controversy.

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, immediately on Friday, told the Marine Corps to “re-investigate and take appropriate action” against the Marine snipers whom participated in the 2010 photograph.

Pentagon press secretary George Little expressed similarly, saying “that racist and anti-Semitic symbols have no place alongside U.S. service members.”

In a statement by former Vietnam Marine veteran captain and National Commander of the Jewish War Veterans of the United States of America, Allen Falk told Army Times, “We believe that these young men likely did not understand the significance of the symbol.”

However, he emphasized that his organization see the Marine Corps “to increase education on American history” for its recruits to prevent future misunderstandings.

Comments (12)
12 Wednesday, 02 May 2012 23:41
Marines is suppose to be capitalized. Nouns are capitalized. Marine Corps! not Marine Corp. Corporation?
11 Thursday, 16 February 2012 20:47
Sumit Singh
This might just have been an innocent picture. Just go to an Indian temple -- it is full of that particular symbol -- thousands or millions of them in India. To say the Indians are hateful to Jews because of that is ignorant. It is time to stop bullying the world for the misdeed to one individual in the pervious century!
10 Tuesday, 14 February 2012 15:22
It is true that the swastika has been layered with negative and violent meaning. Sadly, this is from a very short time in the life of this symbol. 16,000 years ago the gammadion and swastika were symbols of oceanic and atmospheric gyres, and a symbol for the movement of time. It became an important symbol in Eastern cultures, used to communicate the concepts of health, power, and wisdom. But one must know what a word or symbol means to the culture in which it is being used, and use them with care. Perhaps centuries from now this misunderstood symbol will regain some of its previous respectability.
9 Tuesday, 14 February 2012 00:51
Unbiased person
Sensationalism and humiliation are like the anus of the press. A lot of respectable people in this country don't care to see it or smell it.

If someone has their fly down in public, and you're the first one to catch it, it's not polite to shout "HEY EVERYONE, LOOK AT THIS GUY!! HE DIDN'T REALIZE HIS FLY WAS DOWN!!!"

You walk up to the person, tap them on the shoulder, and say (psst, your fly is down, you might want to fix that) and you thereby afford that person the opportunity to quietly correct it themselves.

How about next time you're offended by something, you approach the "offenders", tap them on the shoulder, and say "Sir/Ma'am, do you realize what you are doing is offensive to myself and probably a lot of other people?". If they persist, be my guest and complain. But if I know anything about Marines (as a once active-duty Marine), typically all it takes to fix a belligerent Marine is to inform someone higher up in their chain of command (and there's no need to start with the Secretary of Defense for future reference) because Marines pride themselves in being able to correct their unit without bringing the top brass into the situation.

And for all these editorial comment writers, how about you stop giving into this type of reporting. You're being baited to comment about something that has nothing to do with your everyday life. There's not even enough information here to give the background as to why this symbol was being used, hence the investigation. Instead so many of your comments just fill in the blanks and say "they knew this and that" or "they're all gang members". What are you all, some kind of mind-readers? Do you know the Marines personally? If not, how about you keep your rotten opinions to yourselves and stop pretending like you know what you're saying. It's hard enough to be a Marine without a bunch of know-it-all commentators constantly pointing fingers at us screaming about "hate-monger" this, and "white-supremacy" that.
8 Monday, 13 February 2012 23:09
I used to be with 1st Recon Bat. in the late 80's and I recall seeing individuals that had the Waffen SS flag (lightning bolt S's).

The kid had seen another person with a flag similar and thought it meant Scout Sniper...and was aware that it was an old "bad guy" german flag.

Most of these guys dont really understand that the SS was the part of the German war machine that commited attrocities and arranged the Holocaust. Hell...most Americans cant point to the US on a Globe...let alone know which symbols represented pure evil when their grandparents were kids.
7 Monday, 13 February 2012 11:47
Mr. Austin
Scout Sniper, there are black, hispanic, white, asian, etc. Scout Snipers in the Corps who use this symbol it's sad it will come to a end because of media and it ease to send the public into a uproar or panic.
If you belive even for a second that this group was affiliated or sympathetic to "hate" to which this symbol has sadly come to represent in the mindless masses you need to spend some time with these Marines and see for yourself.
6 Monday, 13 February 2012 06:59
Anyone who thinks this wasnt racist, or that the marines arent filled with people with white supremacist ideals has either not been enlisted in the past 15 years or is a white supremacist themselves, trying to hide the fact.

Racists active in the military is not a big secret. The brass knows about it, there have been many investigations, and several sentences for members of white power groups active in the military.

Calling out these bad apples does not = hating the marines. NOT calling out these bad apples would equal to the ultimate disrespect to the corp as a whole.
Your excuses all fall flat.. oh it's an ancient rune, oh they probably didn't know.. oh they couldn't be neo-nazis because marines from several generations ago fought the nazis back in the 1940s

what a weak collection of excuses

Let's face it, we have both a gang problem and also a neo-nazi problem in our military. There is "blood" and "crip" gang graffiti spray painted by our soldiers all over Iraq

Until we own up to those facts we won't be able to deal with the problem
4 Sunday, 12 February 2012 11:25
Roberta Martin
I have read these comments and I'm disgusted, sickened and angered by the total lack of support for the Marine Corps. The symbol you see before you is called the Sig. Rune which envokes power, strength and good luck. Like many other harmless and good symbols like the Swastika (Navajo symbol meaning "well being" ) the Nazi's took them and turned them into representations of evil. I have nothing against Jews or anyone else but the people that are crying out about the USMC and this picture need to remember...... back in WWII the Marines were fighting on another front all by themselves freeing up many of the ground troops to end the war of the same hatefulness they are spewing. The USMC, yes they are naughty little monkeys, but they are OUR naughty little monkeys and these ungrateful jerks need to remember that. The Scout Snipers ...... you keep doing a great job and don't listen to these morons, and I'm talking about these journalists that spread this hate all over the media. Before you start talking about how the Marine Corps. need an American History lesson, perhaps you should realize that the USMC ARE American History, everyone here would do well to have a Symbols History Lesson....... The Marine Corps. are very awesome folks, and so are the other branches as a whole, have you tried reporting on something that's worthwhile instead of trashing the USMC and other branches....... pathetic is what you are go read a book.
3 Sunday, 12 February 2012 00:49
P.O'd texan
First of all, the media needs to just stop. They aren't doing any good by publicizing negatively on our troops protecting their very own right towards their first amendment. The SS flag represents "Scout Sniper", not a nazi symbol. Second of all, why would the very own men who fought agaisnt and shed blood towards the Nazi's, take up their symbol and use it in the same context? The media is B.S. First they throw a piss picture out and now this? They need to go suck it, without the Marine Corps, they would all be slaves under a horrible, ruthless dictator.
2 Saturday, 11 February 2012 23:17
Snakey Tricker Charlie
These Marines did nothing wrong at all. Their mistake -- and that's all it was -- was in not knowing what the stylized double S stood for in history and, by their ignorance, they neither dishonored history nor the millions of civilian and military victims of Hitler's SS. Perhaps what is dishonored is an education system that can graduate young people from high school without the students knowing about the symbolism used by atrocious actors in history. In any event, this presents nothing more than a teaching moment for those young men -- who, never forget, put their lives in harm's way every day -- and for the military community as a whole. As a former Marine who served in combat, I can assure America -- including each and every Jewish American -- that these heroic young men were simply flexing their muscles in front of initials (regrettably stylized somewhat like the Nazi symbol) that represent their job in the Marine Corps: They have trained hard as Scout Snipers and live their life as Scout Snipers. They are among America's best. They are our sons and neighbors and kids' team mates; they are America's heroes,and are neither bigots nor purveyors of hate. So I would suggest that every American sit back and relax. And I would urge the Commandant of the Marine Corps to have the back bone to stand up to SecDef Leon Panetta. If it remains true, after an investigation, that no harm was intended and no Marine even recognized the stylized SS as a Nazi reference, the Commandant should be prepared to resign his commission in standing up for his Marines and refusing to punish young men who did absolutely nothing wrong in every fair sense of that word. My two cents worth.
Snakey Tricker Charlie
1 Saturday, 11 February 2012 22:26
Did anyone at your news organization take any history courses in college? The double lightning flashes are an ancient symbol used by many cultures in many parts of the world. Marine Scout-Snipers have been using it since at least the mid-80's. Its use in that photo is more a case of bad public education in our NCLB school systems than intentional abuse by our Marines. As for history taught to Marines, the Corps spent WWII in the Pacific fighting the Japanese, not in Europe fighting the Nazis, and focuses on the proud history of our organization and battles won. If you want non-specific history taught, fix the public school system.
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